Last week was a great example of why it's so difficult to win money by betting on the NFL. Here's what I said: "the Eagles at 20 and the Cardinals at 20-24 points". The line was 3. Unfortunately, the Cardinals hit the one value in that range the fell outside the point spread. Fortunately, we did hit the under. I'm not 100% sure, but I believe it's the first time the readers chose the under. Good timing.
This week's game:
The Houston Texans are 4-4, but there is a pretty big split in quality between the teams they've beaten and the ones they've lost to.
Which group of teams do the Eagles fit better with?
Eagles Overall DVOA: 12.4% (6th)
Texans Overall DVOA: -4.8% (22nd)
Eagles Offense DVOA: -3.7% (23rd)
Texans Defense DVOA: -2.5% (13th)
Eagles Defense DVOA: -6% (8th)
Texans Offense DVOA: -2.5% (19th)
With Darren Sproles back, the Eagles appear to have a very large advantage on STs. The Eagles still rank 1st, while the Texans are 27th. The punt return game for the Eagles looks especially promising.
Clearly, the Eagles are the better team by DVOA. It's not even close. The Texans defense is decent, but nowhere near as good as the Cardinals, so the offense should LOOK much better on Sunday.
The two teams do have several previous opponents in common. Here are the outcomes:
Giants: Eagles win by 27 (home). Texans lose by 13 (road).
Washington: Eagles win by 3 (home). Texans win by 11 (home).
Colts: Eagles win by 3 (road). Texans lose by 5 (home).
On balance, the results favor the Eagles by a significant margin.
The Texans' defense ranks most similarly to Washington, with just 1.3% DVOA difference (Houston is better). The Eagles scored 37 against Washington. Houston also ranks just a bit worse than both Jacksonville and San Francisco. The Eagles scored 30 and 21 against them (SF was all STs). That puts us around 30-32 points. The team is averaging 29 points per game, so that seems reasonable.
Meanwhile, the Eagles' defense is the best the Texans will have faced (by a big margin). The closest ranking defense Houston has played is Washington (14th). Against them, Houston scored just 17 points. In fact, Houston has scored 30 points just twice this year, against Tennessee and Oakland, the 24th and 25th ranked defenses by DVOA. The Texans are averaging just 23.1 points per game this year. As demonstrated, they've faced a very weak schedule when it comes to defenses. I'm setting the Texans expected points at 20-23.
You'll notice that's a HUGELY different from the spread (Eagles -2). Usually when we're this far from the spread, it means we've done something wrong. I really don't see what though. The Texans have a .500 record, but they've built that with wins, albeit strong ones, against relatively subpar teams. You can say the same thing about the Eagles, but the Eagles performance in losses has been much more impressive.
Basically, I'm getting a similar feeling to the Giants game a few weeks back. I think the Eagles roll, and I'm taking them -2. On our over/under, the real risk is the Texans. As I said, they've yet to play a defense playing as well as the Eagles are right now. They might struggle just as the Giants did. But I don't think that's likely. I'm taking the Over 49, but I like the spread bet a lot better.